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19th October 2023 Latest News

Virtual Reality (VR) helping reduce stress and anxiety for veterans

Celeste VR headset

An innovative program that helps to reduce stress and anxiety for veterans is currently being trialled at the Jamie Larcombe Centre’s Veteran Mental Health Precinct.

The Virtual Reality (VR) Occupational Therapy Program uses a VR headset to immerse veteran inpatients in virtual simulations that focus on mindfulness exploration, distraction and motivation, while promoting relaxation.

The program allows veterans to build skills that support emotional regulation and importantly, also motivates patients to engage with mental health therapies.

Staff assist patients who take part in the virtual reality program to ensure they feel safe and supported with simulations ranging from calming under water explorations, to physically engaging activities that involve visual cues for breathing exercises, mindfulness games and musical activities.

Celeste Armstrong, Occupational Therapist at the Jamie Larcombe Centre and lead on the VR project, said that initial trials already showed there was an 8-12% decrease in anxiety symptoms reports after one session.

“This project is important in engaging technology in therapies that we already know are beneficial, to see how we can continue to improvement,” Celeste said.

“My hope for this study is that it is the beginning of a new method of supporting veterans mental health.”

The VR study has shown significant progress this year with 12 participants completing the study.  

Early indications suggest an overwhelmingly positive response, with notable improvements in physical, psychological and social aspects of veteran wellbeing reflected in the qualitative interviews that have been conducted. 

The MESHA research team will continue recruitment throughout 2024, with the intention of publishing findings from the pilot study.  

MESHA is proud to be evaluating the project and we look forward to sharing the results with our supporters in the future. 

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